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Ms Emma Nicol

Study Support Assistant

Disability Services

Personal statement

My research career has gained me extensive experience of ethnographic research with children, the design and evaluation of digital products for children and the development and evaluation of touchscreen interfaces. In recent times I have been conducting research with older adults using participatory design techniques. I also have a keen interest in educational technology and have published on my experiences of in-the-wild evaluations of museum interactives developed for the National Trust for Scotland, and on the use of digital simulations in professional education.

My research interests are chiefly interaction design and information behaviour.

I am currently working on EPSRC funded project investigating mobile text entry for older adults (OATS) with Mark Dunlop and Andreas Komninos. 

I am a member of the Mobiquitous Lab and i-lab research groups.


Enhancing transitions into civil engineering (EnTICE)
Nicol Emma, Switzer Christine, Bertram Douglas, Kenny Michael, Murray Michael, Ferguson Neil
13th Annual Enhancement Themes Conference, (2016)
Enhancing student transitions into engineering from underrepresented backgrounds
Switzer Christine, Nicol Emma, Bertram Douglas, Kenny Michael, Murray Michael, Ferguson Neil
13th Annual Enhancement Themes Conference, (2016)
Special issue on reimagining interfaces for older adults
Nicol Emma, Dunlop Mark D, Treviranus Jutta
International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction Vol 8, pp. v-x, (2016)
Rethinking mobile interfaces for older adults
Charness Neil, Dunlop Mark, Munteanu Cosmin, Nicol Emma, Oulasvirta Antti, Ren Xiangshi, Sarcar Sayan, Silpasuwanchai Chaklam
ACM CHI 2016, pp. 1-4, (2016)
A participatory design and formal study investigation into mobile text entry for older adults
Nicol Emma, Komninos Andreas, Dunlop Mark D
International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction Vol 8, pp. 20-46, (2016)
Designed with older adults to support better error correction in smartphone text entry : the MaxieKeyboard
Komninos Andreas, Nicol Emma, Dunlop Mark D
17th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services, pp. 797-802, (2015)

more publications


Empirical investigation & user-centred development of touch-screen text entry methods older adults
Dunlop, Mark (Principal Investigator) Nicol, Emma (Researcher)
"Mobile technologies now have a considerable impact on work and social lives, for example it is estimated that over 25% of emails are now opened on mobiles. As the older working population rises, due to both aging population demographics and increasing retirement age, an increasing number of digital economy workers will require to use mobile technologies for work into their mid/late 60s. The proposed European Accessibility Act aims to require goods and services that are seen as critical for the citizen to participate in society to be accessible to disabled and older people - this is likely to cover information and communication technologies including mobile phones. Age UK encourage the UK Government to support the act and state that the EU must ensure that the scope of the act is broad enough to cover the needs of older people. Text entry is core to mobile interaction such as email, social networking, instant messaging and interacting with services such as web or map searching and thus it is increasingly important to people's participation in work and society. The majority of smartphones now do not have any physical keyboard but rely on on-screen touch keyboards. These have been shown to be slower and more error-prone than traditional mini-physical keyboards, but are popular as they permit full screen services and larger reading area. While there have been numerous studies into text entry usage on touchscreens, there has been very little work studying the effects of aging on text entry, and none on modern touchscreen phones where reduced visual acuity, reduced motor control and reduced working memory are all likely to have an impact. Currently industry is focussed on targeting the current main market of younger users with any devices designed for older users being extremely simplified phones rather than powerful smartphones people are becoming accustomed to. Our initial studies have also shown that older users have considerable trouble with modern smartphones but may be willing to adopt new keyboard layouts and technologies to compensate for this. In this project we will conduct a detailed investigation into text entry for older adults. We will build on our initial results and current prototype keyboards to conduct participatory design sessions with older users to identify key design criteria for older adult text entry. We will quantitatively measure touchscreen tapping times for different age groups and develop accidental tap filters to reduce errors. We will formally evaluate keyboards based on our findings to assess our hypothesis that older people can successfully use appropriately designed touch-screen text entry methods."
Period 01-Sep-2013 - 30-Nov-2015

more projects


Disability Services
Livingstone Tower

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